The title is a pretentious joke, but there is a kernel of truth in there.
A few days ago I wrapped up my HobbyPCB HardRock50 amplifier build, and I'm in the process of testing it with a variety of QRP rigs. So far so good with the Yaesu FT-818 and the Icom IC-705, and testing with the Elecraft KX2 is coming up. Right now I'm updating the external interface for the IC-705 that is manufactured by HobbyPCB, an interface that allows the amplifier to follow band changes on the radio and trigger tuning cyclesEarlier today I created a video showing the start-up procedure when using the amp and the IC-705 interface with the IC-705. The video shows how the IC-705 interface controls band switching (via Bluetooth), tuning and amp triggering. The interface works quite well, but it is an extra cost item ($70 as I have it configured) from HobbyPCB. Note - you DO NOT need this interface to run the IC-705 with the amplifier - the interface just takes care of the band switching and tuning duties, something you can do without the interface. You just have to do those tasks manually, and it's not at all difficult.
Luckily the damage was limited to the blown capacitor
|Getting set to replace the blown capacitor|
Last, although everything about this amp and the add-on components like the tuner and control interface are well documented, the HobbyPCB website is something of a dog's dinner in terms of organization, and HobbyPCB has some dead links and pointers to outdated files out there. They need the help of a good web developer.
So what's the use case for this amp? For me it's simply this - with the demise of portable all-band, all-mode 100 watt rigs like the IC-7100 or the FT-857, I am looking for more 'oomph' for both my IC-705 and my KX2. I love those rigs, but feel that they are limited by their 10 watt output, particularly when working voice. Let's focus on the IC-705 - an incredibly capable radio that brings together all the features anyone would need for portable operations. I consider 50 watts as something of a sweet spot for portable work. In most cases going from 50 - 100w output doesn't really get you much beyond greater power consumption. I also like the idea of the two components in separate packages. If I only want to run digital I can go out with just the radio and work at 10 watts. If I want to run voice, I can bring along the amp and push things up to 50 watts. With the internal tuner in the amp I can also leave the Icom tuner behind. It's all about options and capability.
The next step is testing using a battery instead of a power supply - I'll test using a 12 amp hour LiFePo battery to see how long that holds up in field use. I'll also be testing with the KX2. So stay tuned!